Band Visit – Jon Spencer

We recently had the honor to host Jon Spencer and his band for his current tour ‘Jon Spencer Sings the Hits‘ traveling the US and UK. Who knew that underground rock legends like modernism too, when they asked if they could pop in for a quick visit – of course we said yes. Besides, Bob is a huge fan and was totally in music heaven meeting some of his favorites, and possibly sneaking in some requests for autographs. After a tour of the house, espresso shots for all, Sam Coomes tested out our old-school piano in the basement, Bob Bert and M. Sord geeked out over the space, and answering the million questions on the details from Jon, it was photo time. Bob took a few snaps before they hit the road for their next gig. Thanks for stopping by lads – hope to see you again soon.

We think this one could seriously be an album cover, sharing a few more from the quick photo session.

Garden – Pool Area

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Last summer we managed to get a empty side-lot transformed into our little oasis. In four months we went from a grassy side-lot to a hidden swimming hole with a garden that blends with the established plantings. It was a fun process, and thanks to the design work by Julie DeLeon of Groundwork Design we can now enjoy our compound and watch the low maintenance garden grow.

Here are the plans for the side-lot, viewed alongside the house and the existing garden, that is essentially directly in front and behind the house.

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We had some changes that needed to be made to the designs to accommodated: budget; permits; city-planners; pool design; changes in terrain due to pool dig; and other countless design issues that occurred along the way. So things look a little different, as our plans evolved and looked more like the this plan [pictured below] …. again with some modifications. We have kept the existing garden as is, adding some plants into the existing beds, but it is largely un-touched. The area we impacted was the side-lot.

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POOL: We started the design with the pool selection and placement. We wanted to have long narrow pool that mimicked the shape of the house. Julie cleverly placed it in the back corner for a few reasons: 1] least amount of disruption to the large existing trees; 2] maximize our hours of sun on the pool finding the least shaded parts; 3] flattest area of the side lot (it is a basin and is lower by 4-6ft from the front side to the rear property line.

FENCING: We had to have a fence around the pool, and we wanted to also have it reach around the house to contain the dog. This was going to make a HUGE impact to the look of the house.

The design that we REALLY wanted came further into our front property, but the city would not allow it at 6ft to go past the front of the house. The ruling was made so it didn’t prohibit drivers from seeing cars backing / approaching the street from the driveway. We tried to convince them, that the placement left lots of visibility. We were able to get them to compromise, and we had to go with it. Otherwise it would have required us to apply for an exception – and that was going to be more time and $$$.

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So we ended up with this [see below] as a compromise. Because the change in location meant it hit an area where the land started to lower + dip – we ended up having to backfill under the fence to reach up to 4ft in some sections. We do miss that they fence was going to have a break and short turn. The short fence bridging the two long expanses, was going to be vertical bars, designed to be open to a feature a tree trunk and allow Banksy to have a view to the street. No clear view for the pup.

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As for the style .. we were inspired by our neighbors pool / yard fence that is made from aluminum & actual wire-mesh safety glass [pictured below].

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We also loved this image [pictured below] that our Landscape Designer – Julie shared with us. With that we were off to the races to find a solution for a fence, we have another post to give the details on the design … it can be found here.

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PLANTS: Julie choose plantings that matched those that were already in the garden, along with period appropriate options, in 1964 we didn’t have access to the vast selection of varieties that we do today.

FURNITURE: We have kept outdoor furniture around the house in the existing garden period appropriate with vintage pieces – all knoll of course. However, for the pool area we selected more affordable options that were still minimal in style, came with a warranty, and something we didn’t need to panic about as we witness them taking some serious use and abuse. We went with Design-within-Reach EOS furniture line in white designed by Mathew Hilton in 2011. They are proving to be durable and survived our winter. The only drawback the chaise loungers absorb the rain and hold onto the water – in a major way. The leaf blower is good for dealing with that issue, when turned on it pushes the water out fast, and they are relatively quick to dry. The umbrella’s are a classic, and we first saw them in Palm Springs at The Parker, you can buy them here.

Earlier this Spring we finalized some details, we need to add irrigation, and yet some details – like landscape lighting, have still not been resolved. The plants have a lot of growing to do for the hedges to form and the trees to mature. You can find us this summer in the side-lot admiring the view. It is so nice to be able to enjoy the pool and garden with friends and family this year without all the construction and mess. It’s cocktail time!

Frost House – Art

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We frequently get asked about the art in the house, so we thought we would share some details for our art loving friends on the key pieces that we have hanging on the walls.

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First off [pictured above] is the most frequently asked ‘who is the artist’ piece. The piece was purchased from Trilogy Antiques in Three Oaks, MI about 7-8 years ago. It is titled Birds and was painted by Albert K. Pounian, a local Chicago artist and art professor who served for a decade as the corporate curator for Continental Bank’s art collection in its branches throughout the world. He died Oct. 25, 2000 at the age of 76 after battling with Parkinson’s disease. Here is a little more detail found in his obituary that appeared in the Chicago Tribune.

Mr. Pounian began to excel in art at a young age, said his brother, Arch. While a teenager studying at the Art Institute of Chicago, he was recruited by the Army to draw maps for military operations during World War II. He served in the Army from 1942 to 1946, attaining the rank of second lieutenant and receiving a Bronze Star Medal and four battle stars.

After the war, Mr. Pounian received bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Art Institute, specializing in drawing, painting and illustration. He began teaching at the institute and other local art leagues and schools, including Barat College in Lake Forest.

Franklin McMahon, a friend of Mr. Pounian’s and a fellow artist, said his friend painted in the social realist style and later moved into abstraction–although his works continued to feature recognizable objects.

Mr. Pounian’s brother said he had a strong social conscience that led him to create paintings with social themes, such as his opposition to Vietnam War, and also to participate in marches in Selma, Ala., during the height of the civil rights movement.

Mr. Pounian was also known for his pen and ink drawings of landscapes and street scenes, and he traveled to England, Ireland and Wyoming to paint and teach. His work was exhibited at local galleries, schools and other public buildings from the 1950s through the 1980s.

He held leadership positions for local art programs, exhibitions and galleries, and was well-known among artists in the Chicago area.

From 1979 to 1989, Mr. Pounian was the corporate art curator for Continental Bank, managing the artwork the bank exhibited at its headquarters in Chicago and at branches worldwide. He also helped organize an association of local corporate art curators, serving as its chairman from 1981 to 1982.

You can read other articles here and see other works here by Albert K. Pounian.

When we purchased the house, we acquired this original piece that was hanging in the formal dining room [pictured above and below], it was created by a local artists Chiquita Mueller and it is titled ‘Muted Sun‘. It is a mix of oil and what we assume is local gravel & sand. We are doing some searching to see if we can find out more details on this artist. It came with the original receipt even.

 

Next up [pictured below] the ‘Jack + Queen + King + Joker‘ pieces came to  us through a instagram follower that alerted us to the story of the artist Mark Coomer. We loved the connection to the area and knew immediately we had to buy some pieces to add to the house. Most of the homes items that remained when we purchased the home were noted: to be made in America; and frequently sourced ‘locally’, so we saw these as an appropriate addition to the walls.

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Mark Coomer was born in Bay City, MI in 1914.  He studied in Chicago and Detroit.

Mark Coomer visited La Porte, Indiana with his wife Sally in 1952, and the relationship with our company to sell his serigraphs began.  They would only do 100 of each subject, to make these truly limited edition pieces of art.  All but the last 24 subjects were done on Masonite.  The larger ones were done on paper.  Mark and Sally loved each other and loved the art they created together.

He lived in the Chicago suburb of Prospect Heights for a while, and later in Arizona while exhibiting his paintings and limited edition serigraphs nationally.  Coomer passed away in 2004.

All the details can be found here at Midcentury Serigraph where you can also buy some of his serigraph pieces too.

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This piece [pictured above] was added to the collection in 2017, purchased from an instagram account called The Art of Object. We do not have a great deal of information other than: it is titled ‘Sadness’ and it was painted by Paul Werth. From some brief research it appears that he was born in Germany in 1912 and died in 1977. He is said to be a Work War II camp survivor. The piece has since moved from the family room into the dining room, to create a gallery wall.

We also purchased the following additional pieces pictured above: Far Left – from The Art of Object in 2017, a 1950’s French cubist still life, the medium is oil on board and the piece is ‘untitled’ by Jean Wullaert. We have searched for details on the artist and so far have come up with nothing; Top Right – this piece was picked up locally in Michigan in early 2018, from one of our favourite stores – Trilogy Antiques, actually these came from their outpost in Harbert, written on the back is Lappen Zimmerhan;  Bottom Right – came from Dial M for Modern, it is from 1972 and by R.Ball we have no other details.

The final piece we are sharing for now was also spotted on instagram. It joined us in August 2017 and came from an Atlanta store – Distinct Modern. It is an abstract piece by T.Webb created in 1964 and is also ‘untitled’.  We stare at it daily in the family room.

We have some other bits & pieces, and loads of sculptural pieces hanging on the walls – we will share those another time.

Morse House – Palm Springs

We first met Joan & Gary Gand through Chicago Bauhaus and Beyond in 2017 when their non-profit organization, which celebrates and promotes 20th century modern architecture and design, did a tour of The Frost House. When we headed out to Palm Springs for Modernism Week they kindly invited us over to their home – the Morse House [1961].

The original home owners where Teddy & Claire Morse. Teddy had selected a ranch model in the Vista Las Palmas neighborhood of Palm Springs. This area is know for it’s Alexander Homes, and the house model originally chosen is suspected to be a design by William Krisel. Claire Morse, a fan of Harold “Hal” Levitt designs [a modernist architect for Hollywood elite] wanted something fancier than the standard.  So they hired a builder to intervene and add the ‘Levitt’ design effect to the partially finished home.

The previous day to our visit, we had aimlessly being stalking homes, randomly driving up and down streets, we stopped outside one particular home and said to ourselves “OMG – now that house I want to peek inside”. It really stands out from the crowd. Fast forward to the next day, Joan texts their address, we slap it into WAZE and head on over. When we turn the corner, and WAZE announces you have arrived – OH BOY! had we arrived – right to the very house we wanted to peek at. As it stood right before us – we squealed – EEEEeeek! We couldn’t get out of the car fast enough, both rushing to the doorbell, dying for the door to open. WOWZA – what a house.

Nominated by the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation as a Class 1 Historic Site, and it deserves to be, and needs to be on the list – totally AMAZING. The minute you enter – you feel like you are apart of a glamorous MCM moment – walking right into a ‘set’ – it is so mid-century perfect. We gushed over every room – every view – every detail. We are still gushing thinking about it. This home wraps up into one perfect parcel – everything quintessential about Palm Springs Mid Century Modern. The Architecture coupled with the Gand’s impeccable taste in art and collectibles makes this house feel that way. Now – how do we get ourselves invited to the next cocktail party.

Look at that garden. We could be happy here living outside in the pool on a float, where we can admire the garden and be mezmerised by the kinetic sculptures as they dance in the wind. Those windows you see, they are giant sliding doors that open the house up to: the swim-up bar; and the sunken living room.

Back inside – who doesn’t love a Malm fireplace in their master bedroom? A dreamy house – every room is fabulous – see we are still gushing. For sure this is our Palm Spring MCM fave. Thanks for the invite Joan & Gary, and thanks for putting up with our ‘teenage fan club’ behavior. You can read more about the house here and here.

And one last note, that is equally impressive – the living room / pool is the subject of this SHAG piece of art called “The Impostors” you can purchase it here. Gary Gand is sporting a hat on an eames lounger, whilst Joan Gand is looking glam sipping a cocktail – seated on the stairs. Can you see why we want to go to party here – this piece captures the feel of the home perfectly. Cheers!

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Eames House – Case Study House #8

If you find yourself in LA, make sure before you arrive that you make a reservation to tour the interior of the EAMES HOUSE. You can find out all the details here. The tour is intimate and incredibly special, it feels like a morning or afternoon as a house guest, with an opportunity to sit on the rug and have a chat with the docent. It’s something that we could see ourselves returning for another interiors tour, there is so much to absorb, and so much packed into an efficient and somewhat compact space. It is a splurge, but it is work every penny – the money is reinvested into the preservation of the property.

The most surprising element to the property was the proximity of its location to the ocean. Perched on a hillside, the home is set back, and overlooks a meadow in which you can see the ocean framed through tall beautiful eucalyptus, the setting is incredibly magical. We can see why Ray when she would arrive back to the house + studio, she would ‘inhale deeply and smile’, we did too.

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We did notice some similarities, and I am sure Emil Tessin was influenced by these case study homes. We noticed that the exposed steel beams and colors had some likeness in our Alside House, maybe that helped us feel comfortable when we were on this tour.

There was so much to be inspired by on this visit. For example, the ferns in the garden [pictured above] are something that we want to place into our garden, and we definitely want to introduce more house plants into the interior. Photography is not permitted of the interiors – but check it out for yourself – the vignettes are so inspiring. Oh! And we must be the last people on earth to learn that the ‘house bird’ is a replica of a decoy that Charles & Ray picked up in Indiana when on a road-trip after getting married in Chicago [yep – we purchase one – but on the hunt for a ‘decoy’]. Lots of inspiration here, that is why we can see that return visits would be of value – so much to experience.

Modernism Week 2018

We are excited to announce that the Frost House has been invited to attend Modernsim Week in Feb 2018. We will be providing a virtual experience on the house in the form of a ‘photography’ rich presentation.

We are seriously so honored to be called, even if we are filling a spot at the last minute for someone that could not longer attend – we will take it. Every time our story is told we hear from people that can provide us with more information about Emil Tessin or Alside Homes Corp. or lead us to finding one of the 96 homes.

HOWEVER, if you are attending Modernism Week – please do come to our talk. Our Mum/Mom’s can’t make it so we would be so grateful if you could make it to fill some seats so we are not talking to an empty room – we might even have a little gift as a token of our appreciation for your attendance. so please follow the link to buy tickets –>

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Here are some details about the event:
“INSTANT HOUSE. It will come delivered in two trailer trucks and within 48 hours will be completely assembled down to the last fixture and appliance.” LIFE Magazine August 18th, 1961.
Join the current owners of The Frost House’, as they share stories of living in an intact 1960’s prefabricated display home’. It is a remarkable time-capsule that is still furnished with its original sales model’ first-edition furniture from Knoll International, original kitchen with case design work by Paul McCobb, appliances, fittings and fixtures — even the original curtains. The home has been relatively untouched since it first went on the market to attract buyers to a new development in Michigan City, Indiana.
It still looks like the sales brochure. The steel, glass and aluminum flat roof home with its baked enamel panels of green, yellow and blue was so astounding to a local doctor that he insisted on buying the display model’ exactly as he experienced it. Dr. Robert Frost and his wife Amelia raised their children there and lived in the home until his death, leaving all the furniture basically where it stood when they bought it. Follow along on the journey to uncover the history of the home’s manufacturer, Alside Homes Corp, and the architect Emil Tessin, the son of Emil Albert Tessin, the legal guardian of Florence Knoll.